something very French

something very French

Something very French

How about something very French for your wedding ceremony.

You may be French.  

You may want a little something French for the sheer chic of it.

You may simply wish to toast your love with champagne.

Whatever the reason there are many French marriage traditions that are delightful.  And of course others that you don’t want your friends to find out too!

As a Sunshine Coast Hinterland wedding celebrant I am always seeking new ways to create ritual within ceremony; finding ways to show something, rather than say something.  And there are so many multicultural rituals to draw from, and rework to fit two people getting married, like Lucy and Neil did.

Lucy and Neil had spent a long and memorable holiday in France.  They remembered it as a very special time in their relationship; in their burgeoning love.

So when they decided to marry they wished to include something a little French in their marriage ceremony.  In fact they had brought some special Champagne back from France, from the real Champagne region where they make the only true Champagne.  (Everywhere else produces sparkling wine did you know?)

Champagne and roses

Now in the region of France where champagne is created, the traditional vineyards often cultivate roses at the ends of each row of grape vines.  They look wonderful, yes, and smell fabulous when in flower, but it is not for the romance that the grape growers plant the roses.

Why the roses in French vineyards?

The rose plays a special and important role in the production of the grapes.  Being extremely sensitive to changes in the soil, reacting quickly to disease or invasion, they are the canary in the vineyard.  The same diseases attack the grape vines, but the rose gives an early warning that something is amiss.  The grower gets a head start in making the necessary changes.    If the blooms are beautiful and abundant, then everything is fine.  Should the rose wither or wilt, grow mould or develop leaf curl then the growers know something is amiss and they take action before their grapes are affected.  The rose works for its keep!

A partnership between rose and grape

We have therefore a partnership between the rose and the grape.  What does this have to do with wedding ritual?  We’re getting there….. and read on.

The Rose de Reims biscuits

In the district of Champagne France, there is another culinary tradition.  In a typical French style where food is closely linked to every aspect of life, the rose petals are used to flavour special biscuits, les biscuits rose de reims – a crisp sweet treat that melts in the mouth. It is not your usual Sunday afternoon tea cookie. The Biscuits Rose de Reims are twice baked and become crisp and not crumbly, delightfully crunchy without falling apart.

A tradition used to celebrate special occasions is the partnering of the les Biscuits Rose de Reims and real Champagne.

Imagine the crossroads of bubbles and roses.

On a special occasion the biscuits are dipped into glasses of champagne and eaten with the celebratory drink.

Individually they are unique and very special, Rose de Reims and Champagne.

But put them together and WOW! What a pair.

What a pair

Is this the kind of symbol you could have to celebrate your union in marriage?

So having decided on something a little French, where else to be wed than the Spotted Chook Ferme Auberge, a French provincial styled country Inn in Montville on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Range.

Congratulations to Lucy and Neil, married in Montville, with Champagne and Les Biscuits Rose de Reims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kari is a special person with a beautiful spirit and a unique gift of putting people at ease. She was so adaptable and knew when to step in to help us and offer some creative and fabulous ideas; however, she also knew when to listen to what we wanted. We were a little nervous about the whole process but Kari made us feel comfortable and excited about our ceremony. On the day, Kari created a loving and relaxed atmosphere amongst all of our friends and family and our ceremony was a dream. Both my husband Neil and I agree that the ceremony was the most special part of our day. We are so happy that we worked with Kari as we now have beautiful memories that last a lifetime. Thanks, Kari. Lucy and Neil

Photos by AWPP of Montville

Read another story about a French wedding

Vintage wedding at the homestead

Vintage wedding at the homestead

Vintage wedding at the homestead

Thank you Jessica and Joel for your inspiration, and congratulations on your marriage.  Where does one start with such a delightful vintage style wedding?

Kenilworth Homestead

Kenlilworth Homestead veranda with DIY bunting

Shall I begin with the choice of venue?

Kenilworth Homestead provides a classic farmyard or vintage wedding, with rolling paddocks of horses and animals, a classic barn, a huge tree for the ceremony, a relaxed river for guests camping ground, cabins to stay in, and plenty of vintage farm relics for photo opportunities galore.

Kenilworth Homestead

DIY vintage wedding decor details bunting and blackboard

DIY vintage wedding elements

Or does one begin with the vintage wedding DIY components; hours of shopping, sourcing, and making with aunties and mums and friends?
DIY vintage wedding with handfasting ritual to tie the knot
Handfasting wedding ritual

Or does one concentrate on a unique handfasting ritual which was part of their wedding ceremony?

It is simply not possible to cover everything in one story. So today I’ll lead you into the tale with a look at where we found ourselves the day after the storm the night before, on a glorious sunny day out in the country.

Setting the stage for a wedding retreat weekend, we begin at Kenilworth Homestead, by the Mary River, on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, a gorgeous farm setting for a wedding.

Jessica had spent hours with Mum and aunties and friends, sourcing country style fabrics and making bunting.  Bunting was strung up around the old barn and garden verandas.  Then there were blackboards with handwritten menus, directions for the guests, an enticing cocktail list, and lawn games.

Then a wander inside the rustic barn itself brought oohs and aahs.  Hours had been spent sourcing vintage crockery for the table settings, and old enamel teapots for the flower arrangements on the tables.  Each table was named for the colour of its teapot!  Outside were lawn games; croquet, badminton…and an old enamel bath! And of course the horses.  The yard was a playground full of delights, and the stage complete for the entry of a bride.

Photos by Kari with a couple from Elleni Toumpas

And the story continues with more photos in the next chapter

A truckload of red wheel barrows

A truckload of red wheel barrows

 ~ with Sunshine Coast wedding celebrant Kari ~

What does a truckload of wheel-barrows have to do with ceremony?  Intrigued? read on….

Ritual and ceremony find a place in many different contexts.

Marriage celebrant Kari recently had the opportunity to be a part of an unusual ritual and an extraordinary project in Bali, Indonesia.

Instigator of the endeavour, Kay Parslow had this to say,

Project 50 started as a simple idea to make the working lives of a group of women from the Balinese village of Pennestanan, a little easier, but also to foster friendship and to make connections with another culture.”

In every respect Kay has achieved her goals, with the help of a group of Australians willing to be a part of Project 50.

But to begin at the beginning….

Two years ago whilst basking in her thatched cottage overlooking some Balinese rice fields, it dawned on Kay that she had been watching a line of women carrying tin dishes of bricks, rocks and gravel on their heads; to and fro along a narrow concrete path.  These women carry building materials from the roadside dump point, along narrow paths, to the actual building site in the rice fields, many 100’s of meters away.  They do this all day, every day, as long as there is work.

 

In an endeavour to give back to the community she was staying with, Kay bought some new tin dishes for the women.  It soon transpired that there were many more women than one woman could help.

On her return to Australia she hatched a plan to connect a group of working women in Australia with a group of working women in Bali.  She garnered support from 50 Australians, each one donating a small sum of money to a pool of funds.  These funds were initially used to buy new tin dishes, new hats, shoes, shirts and cement to repair the bumpy path, but in the back of her mind, Kay was thinking wheel barrows.  It may be OK to carry vegies from the market on one’s head as per centuries of tradition, but rocks and bricks were ‘breaking the camels’ backs’.

Recently I had the opportunity to take Project 50 funds to Bali with husband Stephen and father Peter.  As a donor, I was keen to make sure that our assistance did not have any negative impacts on the local community.  This recent experience taught me that it is not as easy as it sounds to donate equipment to a community.  The gift could be fraught with concerns of creating imbalance, or false need, or upsetting local systems.

To overcome these fears and potential problems it was important to talk,….lots of talk, and give opportunity for the women themselves to speak.  Having fluency in the Indonesian language as one of my skills was crucial to this aspect of the project.

My first task was to have a round table dicussion with the women on their working lives and how they could benefit from extra assistance.  The conversation began gently; I clarified, that the donors were working women of Australia who wished to help working women of Bali.  They too had jobs, families and husbands.  Perhaps I rolled my eyes at this point, but it seemed to break the ice, and much laughter ensued.  Suddenly the stories were flowing.  Children, husbands, families; we realised we had so much in common, and the cultural barriers dropped.  It was now a conversation amongst women of the world.

It transpired that they had already started using wheel-barrows; borrowed and begged from building sites.  Yes they would love to own their own working tools.  The message was clear.

Funds were used to buy 28 wheel-barrows and pairs of rubberised gloves.  Thanks to last minute donors, my parents , for pitching just as our funds were running out, in to buy the final barrow to complete the groups needs.

*****

The celebrant in me wondered if ritual was appropriate at the hand over moment.  Checking this idea with my wise friends and local facilitators of Project 50, brother and sister team Made Yus and Wayan Murda, it was decided to be a great idea.  These two Balinese have been generous and willing locals in facilitating the Project 50 goals.  We are very grateful for their wisdom, guidance and warm friendship.

*****

 

The truck arrived laden with red barrows, and the women gathered.  With Dad on documentation duty and Made Yus and Wayan Murda standing by we began our humble but poignant ceremony.   A blessing was created, encompassing the donors and the recipients; a kind of prayer from Australian working women to Balinese working women.

Using water from the rice fields, in a locally made ceramic pot, adorned by the face of Barong who keeps the good spirits around and the bad spirits at bay, scented with drops of lavendar oil, each woman and barrow was blessed, one by one; water poured over their hands and barrows.  We wiped our faces and chests with the moisture, bringing the blessing deep into our hearts, and washing ourselves with intent.  It is very Balinese, but alo connects with rituals held the world over.  It was a solemn moment ripe with promise. It was a deeply felt moment full of friendship.

I gave this belssing to the women, their families, their barrows and the families who would benefit from their work.  In a country where ritual is part of everyday life, this moment was appreciated and respected.  Each woman felt she had received more than simply a tool for work.  She felt the energy of Project 50, and the dream of Kay, who commented, “this is where I think ceremony plays such an integral part….in making heartfelt connections and formalising relationships…giving context to form and garnering respect between parties. I love that the Project ended with a ceremony….. completed the circle making strong connections with another culture”.

*****

For the following week, myself, my father and husband had a string of friendly greetings each time we walked the paths.  “Halo, halo”.

From each and every woman, we received 100’s of genuine, heartwarming and grateful thanks.  No gift that I have ever given has been more appreciated.

We carry these messages to the donors.

On our final day, we came home to find a pile of fruit on our doorstep, a return gift from the women of Project 50.  This project had ceased to be about the comparatively wealthy giving to the poor, but now an exchange, of friendship.  I felt the Project had come full circle.

 *****

As Kay says, “The women have benefited on a material level with new hats, shoes, shirts, cement to repair some of their paths, aluminium tins and the recently purchased wheelbarrows. There is a hope that their lives, as well as ours, have been enriched in other ways by the experience.

Buying wheelbarrows was the first idea that came to mind so in a sense it feels like the Project has come to completion. It was impossible to imagine that two years on our actions have actually resulted in the women keeping their jobs, as now having a wheelbarrow, is a prerequisite to employment.

I feel many lives have been enriched, certainly mine, by a very humbling experience.  I return home full of appreciation for what those women gave to me.  It was a teary farewell, as they urged us to come back soon.

Photos by Peter Strickland

Arrive with panache to your wedding

Arrive with panache to your wedding

wedding arbour and bridal party

Arrive with panache to your wedding

…just like Jo and Len did to their wedding ceremony along the riverfront at  Noosaville.

Congratulations to newly weds, Jo and Len, your wedding was such fun.

Here is how their wedding began….

Before the wedding began, guests were a little surprised when the Groom unbuttoned his shirt. Dressed in just singlet and rolled up pants, he wandered away from the wedding canopy (by Splash Events) set up by the banks of the Noosa River.  His purple shirt hung on the canopy and he disappeared!

Grroms shirt hanging on the wedding arbour

How the groom arrived to the wedding

To our surprise he returned a little while later from the water, paddling a canoe with energetic young Best Man, Ben. Cheers greeted them as they beached the canoe and redressed in their handsome finery. Was purple going to be a colour theme today?

Groom arrives paddling a canoe to his wedding

How the bride arrived to the wedding

But where was the bride?

Guests were invited to step this way and wander over to the roadside.  Bemused looks, puzzled questions ensued.

It all became clear when the bride arrived on the arm of her dashing son, Max, and with her bridesmaids.  Several girls stepped onto the zebra crossing and held up all traffic for the bridal party to cross over.

Abbey Road

Reminiscences of Abbey Road, more cheers ….. and tears, and laughter.  And the ceremony had not begun yet!

bride arriving ala Abbey Road to her wedding

Back to the wedding

Returning to the bridal canopy, the guests were in for another surprise, as indeed was the bride. Len took up a microphone and sung to his bride as she walked down the aisle.  We forgave her tears.  We all cried.  It was too beautiful.

That was simply the beginning to a delightful wedding ceremony by the river, …..

and finishing as the sun was sinking over the still water, on the top deck of the Boathouse floating restaurant.

Ah …. it doesn’t get better than this!

Photos by Andrea Thompson.

A Wedding in French and English

A Wedding in French and English

He carried his bride over the threshold

~ with Sunshine Coast wedding celebrant Kari ~

Congratulations to Fanny & Tommi married in both French and English at Flaxton Gardens in brilliant sunshine.

Fanny contacted me to request a marriage ceremony on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Range, that both her family and Tommi’s family could understand.  In fact they wanted the entire ceremony in both languages!  Now there’s a challenge I love.

I always offer to create bespoke ceremonies to suit each couple, so that part was not difficult.  For Fanny and Tommi, I simply had to translate the custom ceremony into French as well.  Now whilst I converse in passable French, I will admit to seeking guidance from my dear French friends, to ensure the grammar was all correct.

The outcome was a delightful ceremony ….read twice, as French & English took turn about during the ceremony!  On top of the usual wedding day nerves, both bride and groom made their promises to each other, first in their love’s language, then in their own.  It is not an easy task when one of those languages is not your mother tongue.  The guests were particularly encouraging, and warmly congratulated them for their efforts.  It made for amusing times as half the guests would laugh then moments later the other half got the joke!  As long as everyone understood, in the long run.

the red kombi arroives at Flaxton Gardens for a wedding

Fanny surprised us all arriving in a retro red Kombi with her two beautiful sisters and her charming father, all of whom had travelled from France to be here for Fanny’s day.  She walked down the aisle on the arm of her Dad, under brilliant blue skies to her waiting groom, Tommi.  Their ceremony was not complicated; simple and chic, elegant yet relaxed, with some laughs and I noticed some tears of emotion too.

Tommi and Fanny I wish you well in your future lives together and congratulate on including both your mother tongues in your wedding ceremony.  Thank you for the opportunity to use your poetic and musical sounding language.

One of the specialities I can offer couples, is a ceremony with other languages.  Some of the requests I have fulfilled are a French poem,  a prayer in Afrikaans, and a blessing in Sanskrit, to name a few.  My background as a musician means I have a trained ear for catching sounds.  So even when I do not speak the language, I will learn something in your tongue for you.  I’ll try anything, and with a bit of practice I have delivered so far.

However two languages are my specialty.  I speak fluent Indonesian, having lived there for years in my youth, and Fanny says my French was perfect. Well at least her family who flew out from France for the wedding day could understand the whole ceremony, and not feel at all left out.

It simply helps to know that a wedding in Australia can encompass whatever tradition or culture you wish to include.  Languages are no barrier, and I welcome customs from other traditions.

Photos by Alan Hughes

“Thanks Kari for everything you have done.  We had a great day and the ceremony was amazing; your french was perfect 😉 Thanks again” Fanny